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NZRFG upbeat despite UFB decision

NZRFG upbeat despite UFB decision

New Zealand Regional Fibre Group members still have a critical part to play New Zealand’s fibre landscape.

That is the word from CEO Vaughan Baker despite limited success in the latest round of the Government’s ultra-fast broadband negotiations.

He says congratulations must go to Enable Networks and Chorus who have secured the latest UFB contracts.

Certain New Zealand Regional Fibre Group members may consider partnering in some form with the contracted UFB partners to deliver the Government’s ultra-fast broadband initiative, he adds.

Mr Baker says while disappointed more members have not been selected to build the Government’s urban fibre networks, NZRFG members are tasked with delivering 25% of the UFB network and their fellow members could still play a big part in the process.

“Our model has always been based on collaboration in building open access fibre networks in our communities – which many of our members are doing right now. You only have to look at the number of telecommunications companies and infrastructure specialists our members are already working with to deliver these networks to see that.

“So it is important to take into consideration the fact our members are pushing on with fibre builds anyway and are operating very successful open access fibre networks.

“I think you might find over time that some of our members could be open to working with Chorus in the regions we haven’t been selected to build in - and I firmly believe Chorus will benefit from working with us.

“We have the people on the ground in the UFB regions with the knowledge of the associated challenges with topography so it makes sense to utilise that local experience and regional understanding.”

Although disappointed more NZRFG members weren’t successful in securing UFB contracts, Mr Baker remains upbeat that they can still play an important part in the nationwide rollout of fibre networks.

“Very early on in this process we had wins with the selection of Northpower and Ultra Fast Fibre Limited (owned by WEL Networks).They were chosen ahead of Telecom to design and build the first urban fibre networks under this initiative and they are now underway.

“For an organisation that did not exist until two years ago we’ve had some big wins and the Government has recognised that there is a lot to be said for local community ownership of such infrastructure,” says Mr Baker.

“We’ve stated throughout this process that we wanted to help instigate a step-change to New Zealand’s communications landscape. Outside of the UFB, a number of our members are already achieving that with their own fibre builds and that proactive approach will continue.

“I think you will see a number of NZRFG members working alongside, sometimes competing with, Chorus to deliver ultra-fast broadband to most of these other urban centres around New Zealand.”

“We clearly have the expertise to assist and make this a seamless process and the Government has acknowledged that. I think you will find the same occurs with the Rural Broadband Initiative – we are likely to be involved in some form because we have regional fibre assets and people on the ground with an explicit knowledge of the landscape and the associated challenges.”

Despite missing out on the latest UFB contracts, Mr Baker says the NZRFG is an integral component of the Government finding a successful outcome for the initiative.

“The UFB initiative is a substantial utility network build and utility builds are what our members specialise in. The UFB is about kick-starting our economic prosperity and delivering world-class, open-access communication, something we all have an interest in achieving. The NZRFG remains committed to delivering this step change to the nation.”


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